Middlesbrough’s 10 Best Games at Riverside Stadium – Ranked

31 August 2020 07:09

It's been 25 years since Middlesbrough bid a fond farewell to Ayresome Park and swung open the doors to the Riverside Stadium, the club's new state-of-the-art home.

Boro's new ground took just 32 weeks to build and cost a relatively poultry £16m. The largest newly-built stadium since World War II, the ground was a nod towards the ambition of chairman Steve Gibson as he looked to attract a plethora of superstars to the north east.

Since opening the Riverside has been no stranger to drama, witnessing promotions, relegations, a Premier League trophy presentation, European football as well as welcoming the England and Brazil national teams.

While the Teesside faithful have had little to shout about in recent years, the first quarter of a century in their new home has been strewn with highlights - so, let's take a look back at Boro's ten best games at the Riverside so far and pick the best of the lot.

10. Middlesbrough 2-1 Arsenal (League Cup, 2003/04)

Zenden was on fire for Boro in the 2004 Carling Cup semi-final | Michael Steele/Getty Images

While Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ of 2003/04 are rightly lauded, few recall the numerous defeats they suffered in competitions away from the Premier League – and Boro inflicted TWO of those on them.

Middlesbrough beat the Gunners both home and away in their Carling Cup semi-final clash, with a Boudewijn Zenden strike and a late Jose Antonio Reyes own goal securing Boro’s path to the final as they bagged the first trophy of their 128-year existence.

9. Middlesbrough 4-1 Oxford (Championship, 1997/98)

Having suffered last-day heartbreak the season prior as they were relegated, Boro bounced back at the first time of asking as they enjoyed last-day jubilation at home to Oxford.

A thumping 4-1 win courtesy of doubles from Alun Armstrong and Craig Hignett ensured Bryan Robson’s men would be back in the top flight, with north east rivals Sunderland subsequently missing out.

8. Middlesbrough 3-0 Brentford (Championship, 2014/15)

Kike embraces the Boro coaching staff having put the game beyond doubt | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Following Middlesbrough’s relegation from the Premier League in 2009, the club languished in the second tier for some time with promotion looking a distant dream – until the arrival of Aitor Karanka.

The Spaniard transformed the Teessiders into a force to be reckoned with, reaching the play-off final in his first full season at the club.

The play-off semi-final clash with Brentford was the best atmosphere seen at the Riverside for many years, with the club romping to a 3-0 win to secure their place in the Championship’s Blue Riband event.

7. Middlesbrough 1-1 Brighton (Championship, 2015/16)

Stuani's goal against Brighton saw Boro promoted on goal difference | Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Having been beaten by Norwich in the aforementioned play-off final, Boro dusted themselves off and finally secured promotion the following season.

Having looked certainties for a place in the top two, a mid-season wobble at the turn of the year resulted in a final-day promotion shootout between Boro and Brighton.

An early Cristhian Stuani goal settled the home side's nerves, only for Dale Stephens’ looping header to set up a tense finish. Boro held out for the draw which saw them regain their place in the top flight, causing pandemonium among the Riverside faithful.

6. Middlesbrough 4-1 Basel (UEFA Cup, 2005/06)

Boro’s incredible run to the UEFA Cup final in 2006 had more than its fair share of comebacks. Trailing 2-0 from the first leg of their quarter-final with Basel, an early goal for the Swiss side in the second leg saw Steve McClaren’s men needing four goals to progress.

With just a minute of normal time remaining, the home side had somehow managed to claw their way to within a goal of a place in the semi-final.

Step forward Massimo Maccarone. The Italian’s 90th minute strike completed the comeback and Boro were into the UEFA Cup semi-final.

5. Middlesbrough 4-1 Manchester United (Premier League, 2005/06)

United's superstars were unable to contain Boro | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Boro’s record against powerhouses Manchester United was relatively healthy, and the best of their wins over Sir Alex Ferguson’s side came in 2005.

A Gaizka Mendieta-inspired Middlesbrough side ruthlessly put the Red Devils to the sword, with the Spaniard’s double sandwiching goals from Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink and Yakubu.

A last minute Cristiano Ronaldo header did little to dampen the enthusiasm of a raucous Riverside crowd.

4. Middlesbrough 3-0 Chelsea (Premier League, 2005/06)

Yakubu notches Boro's third of the afternoon | Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

In 2006 Boro inflicted the first three-goal defeat of José Mourinho’s career in England, and it was no fluke.

McClaren’s side were ruthless from the off, with Fabio Rochemback dancing his way through the Chelsea defence to make it 1-0 after just two minutes.

Stewart Downing doubled the home side’s lead on the stroke of half-time, only for Yakubu to end the game as a contest midway through the second half.

3. Middlesbrough 2-0 Liverpool (League Cup, 1997/98)

Boro reached an incredible three domestic cup finals in two seasons – and lost every single one of them.

The third of those three finals was reached with a superb victory over Liverpool - despite Boro playing in the second tier at the time and having trailed 2-1 from the first leg.

Two goals in the opening four minutes from Paul Merson and Marco Branca stunned the Premier league side, and Roy Evans’ men were unable to recover.

2. Middlesbrough 8-1 Manchester City (Premier League, 2007/08)

Boro were rampant against Manchester City | ANDREW YATES/Getty Images

One of the most iconic scorelines in Premier League history.

In City’s final game prior their Abu Dhabi United Group takeover – and subsequently Sven-Göran Eriksson’s last game at the club – they were dismantled by a razor-sharp Boro side.

The writing was on the wall early on as Richard Dunne was dismissed in the 15th minute and Downing dispatched the resulting penalty.

The floodgates then opened, with goals from Adam Johnson, Rochemback, Jérémie Aliadière, another from Downing and a hat-trick from the misfiring Afonso Alves.

An 87th minute Elano goal did little to comfort the remaining City faithful, as Boro recorded their most emphatic Premier League victory to date.

1. Middlesbrough 4-2 Steaua Bucharest (UEFA Cup, 2005/06)

Boro's victory over Steaua Bucharest is arguably the greatest night in the club's history | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Boro’s four-goal comeback against Basel was special, but their comeback in the resulting semi-final was even better.

Yet again the club trailed from the first leg, though the tie was far from over at 1-0. However, after the visitors raced into a 2-0 lead on the night, the Teessiders had another mountain to climb.

Quarter-final hero Maccarone was introduced and had an immediate impact as he clawed one goal back, with Mark Viduka and Chris Riggott putting Boro within a goal of a major European final.

Then, in the 89th minute, the little Italian did it again.

Maccarone leapt like a salmon to connect with Downing’s first-time cross, securing the club’s second four-goal comeback in two European home games and sending the Riverside faithful into raptures.

Source: 90min